Traditionally data is stored using magnetic materials, like those in a hard disk drive. While these systems have been reliable for some time, they are starting to hit the limit of their abilities. To store more information on a platter in an HDD, the bits have to be made smaller, but smaller bits are more susceptible to changes in those around them. To get around this, researchers are looking to step back from magnetism and start using electricity as well, and those at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology with partners at Strasbourg and Japan, have successfully used electricity to flip the magnetic state of a single molecule.
At the center of an organic molecule is a single iron atom. Using an electric pulse the researchers altered the conductive and magnetic state of the metal-organic molecule without disturbing those around it. Considering the current size of a bit is roughly three million atoms, getting it down to a single molecule like this is very impressive.
Of course, this is currently just something in a laboratory, as the researchers had to use an electron microscope to produce the pulse to flip the bit. However, this research shows the potential for spin crossover molecules, like this, which combine properties of memristors and spintronics in a way that can be used for data storage.